Ivy-League Shirt

AKA: Oxford shirt

How to say it: ahy-vee leeg

Traditional Features: 

body template


  • button down collar
  • button-up front
  • back yoke with loop at centre back
  • long sleeves with single cuff
  • must be 100% cotton
  • traditionally made from Oxford cloth


…of the style: Much like the Ivy League Pants, this shirt was part of the overall Ivy League Look that emerged from the elite Ivy League schools in the North Eastern United States in the first half of the 20th century.

The shirt itself is said to have come across from England at the turn of the century thanks to the retailer Brooks Brothers. Made from Oxford cloth ( a breathable, sturdy, basket-weave cotton cloth made in Scotland and named for the prestigious Oxford University in England), the shirt style features a button-down collar which reportedly originated on the Polo fields in England at the turn of the last century – apparently the collars were buttoned down to stop them flapping in the players faces during the game.

The Ivy League shirt became particularly popular in the 1950s and 60s, which was the height of Ivy League Style. Around this time the Ivy League retailers, like Brooks Brothers, began catering to women and Ivy League ladies also began wearing the shirt style.

The preppy or Ivy League look has maintained a steady following into the 21st century, although the style guidelines do not seem to be as strict as they were in the 50s. Modern day Ivy league shirts now come in more colours, fabrics other than Oxford cloth and even the iconic button-down collar seems to be optional. However, the traditional Ivy League shirt is still available from many of the brands who have built their retail empire on the Ivy League/Preppy style (Ralph Lauren, J.Crew, Brooks Brothers) and if you want to achieve the true Ivy League Look, only the original will do.

…of the name: The shirt is named for the Ivy League style of dressing that came out of the Ivy League Schools in the USA, of which it was an integral part.

For more info on Ivy League Shirts try Ivy Style, The Ivy League Look, Highsnobiety, Lyle & Scott or check out the Fairchild’s Dictionary of Fashion

Random Facts

  • Rumour has it that the Scottish mill that originally made Oxford cloth created 4 different weaves in the 1800s and named them after 4 prestigious universities – Oxford, Cambridge, Yale and Harvard. Oxford is the only one that is still made.

21st Century Oxford Shirts

While some of the finer details have changed in the Ivy League shirts (also called Oxford shirts) available on the modern marketplace, the overall look is basically the same and they still exude the preppy, elite air of their Ivy League predecessors.

Band of Outsiders brooks brothers

Band of Outsiders, Brooks Brothers

 ralph lauren The Gap

Ralph Lauren, The Gap

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